Sections 318 and 319 of the Criminal Code of Canada make it a criminal offence to advocate genocide, publicly incite hatred, and willfully promote hatred against an “identifiable group” which is defined as any section of the public distinguished by colour, race, religion, national or ethnic origin, age, sex, sexual orientation or mental or physical disability.
Section 2 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression to all Canadians. However, all Charter rights are subject to reasonable limits that can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society.
Regulations under the Broadcasting Act prohibit any licensee from broadcasting or distributing programming that contains abusive comments about individuals or groups – comments that would expose an individual, group, or class of individuals to hatred or contempt on discriminatory grounds.
Although these regulations apply to radio, specialty services, broadcast television and pay television, Internet-based communications do not fit the definition of “broadcasting.” The internet has become an essential means for people to access information and services but the downside of this unparalleled information exchange is that, alongside its many valuable resources, it also offers a host of offensive materials – including hateful content – that attempt to inflame public opinion against certain groups of people.
Our panel of experts addressed issues such as:
What is the nature of online hate in Canada?
Why is it so difficult to address online hate?
What are the links between online hate and racist violence or radicalization?